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Friday, February 27, 2009

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Here is a science fiction novel that is billed as appealing to older boys. It is engaging and does provoke a response to its modern dilemma of constant distraction and entertainment at the expense of "an examined life" exaggerated in the sci-fi setting.

Teens are searching for fun in the start of this book. Their "feed" (a transmitter located in their brain) helps them to find it. In this case, they are starting on the moon.

During this escapade, Titus meets Violet, a girl who is a bit different. She didn't receive the feed at an early age like the rest of his crowd. She isn't quite as comfortable as the others who have had advertising and media control over them for as long as they can remember. When a man from a rebel group has "pity" on them and disconnects their feed at a local dance club, the contrast between thinking on their own and having their brain mesmerized by corporations begins to interrupt the life of the main character.

It does not end well. It is quite an indictment of our current culture in the tradition of Vonnegut and Wells.

Unlike Vonnegut or Bradbury, this is a modern read with all the language and sexual innuendo of our era. That is why I can't give it a recommendation. If your tween is quite familiar with pop culture, s/he will not be surprised at any of the language. And the language is not merely gratuitious. It actually helps show the shallow, dumbed-down effect of media on the culture. But it made me cringe. I was even more bothered by the sexual innuendo. By today's standards, it is probably mild enough at about PG-13. But I would not let my daughter read it.

It is a fine example of modern sci-fi and will intrigue the modern tween, but read it first. If you are a parent whose child is exposed to movies and television, it will be about the same level of language/sex he tweens are used to when immersed in the pop culture. At least the book will engage the brain and thinking and maybe spark a sci-fi interest that you can further with other authors. But if you're trying to set the bar a higher for your tween than what the pop culture embraces, this falls short of the mark in the arena of sexual innuendo and vulgar language.

Rating: DaVinci discard pile

2 comments:

Anonymous,  July 23, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

its not only appealing to boys . lots of girls read it too .

Tween Lit Crit July 24, 2009 at 6:25 PM  

"it is billed as appealing to older boys,"

means...marketing for the book, quite rightly, finds certain aspects of the book tend to be popular with boys: i.e. the main character is a boy, there is a lot of action, there is less an emphasis on relationships as on suspense, adventure, or mystery. Boy readers will, generally speaking, find it appealing.

Girls are, generally speaking, less choosier than boys and tend to read all kinds of books even while having a preference for romance, relationship-centered books with girls as the main character.

When marketers target boys for a book, they assume many girls will like it, too.

To say a book appeals to boys does not exclude girls, it simply refers to a generalization that statistically tends to be true.

I assume parents are commonsensical about this all and offer good books of all stripes to both genders. Reluctant readers (and this tends to more often be boys) will have a better chance of being engaged in reading if their parents and teachers hone in on boy-friendly books "billed as appealing" to boys... vice versa for reluctant girl-readers...

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